Beauty in the midst of disaster. The weather continues to be cool and wet, so the peonies are HUGE and, miraculously, their support ring is keeping them off the ground. But the bees are still struggling with illness. To keep exposure to chalkbrood spores at a minimum, we clean up larvae they've undertaken everyday.
We also saw a varroa mite last week, on the underside of a worker, so we gave them a patty of homemade bee bread – a grease patty with some pollen that we nabbed at the farm mixed in. Hopefully the tea tree oil will have an affect, because having mites means the bees are susceptible to a host of diseases.
We suspect that, in addition to chalk, the bees have a virus, DWV. From a post on one of the forums "Deformed Wing Virus, like other viruses, lives quite happily in happy adult bees...no problems. Along comes a varroa and and sucks up some infected hemolymph. In it's second move, it carries this virus to a 7/8 day old larva and infects it. The virus then interupts wing development and other healthy formation of this larva." The drone we saw dragged out of the hive yesterday did not have the parasite on him, but no way was he ever going to fly.
The literature indicates that the virus is present in all hives. Since we can't keep it out of the hive, and most agree that DWV is spread via Varroa, the goal is to keep the virus from infecting the brood. If we can get rid of the Varroa, we can protect the brood from further infection.
We're going to give the grease patty some time to work, and speak with Marty as well. Our guess is that he'll tell us to cut out all the drone comb and maybe even re-queen, but we'll see.